Anatomy and Instructional Design

The guest lecture by Dr. Valerie O’Loughlin: Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, was pretty interesting. It was a good one especially for me since it talked about some of the core areas I have been working in as an instructional designer while I was in India. The first ‘course’ I ever worked on as an ID when I accidentally got into this field was about heart anatomy. I had to do the section on heart and blood related disease… was gruesome stuff trying to construct animations to explain the shortcomings of the human heart.

The ones shown by Prof O’Loughlin were simple, clean graphics, briefly explaining the different aspects in Cell Biology. The animations explained the different processes in a to the point manner which left very little chance of misreading or misunderstanding any aspects. I am not sure if she said it outright but there seemed to be some funding issues, which was maybe one of the reasons for keeping the whole look and feel simple and uncomplicated. There were some obvious questions which came to my mind…. the first one being about the voice over (VO). I have found it personally very useful to have a VO whenever there is an animation. But that does require a certain amount of expertise in other design tools.  One of the things which may increase the effectiveness of the animations would be to make the pre test and the post test visually appealing. Instead of having simple text based questions, some graphic based ones could be integrated into the list.

Another way to make it work more could be to give case studies or role plays which the students can do as a part of a group. Right now, the animation puts them into individualized environments. If they can integrate that knowledge to use it in an integrated group environment, learning may be more effective. I could come up with the obvious improvisations of a time line, for the changes happening at each step of the animation. But there seemed to be some technical and compatibility issues. There are some low investment options to improvise on an existing content… especially in this case when the target audience for these animations is medical students. The kind of subject demands that there is a lot of graphical interaction, depiction of the content with the help of different kinds of data presentation.  Another thing which could be tried is to make interactive graphics. Make the different part of the already existing figures interactive…. Display text to the area outside the image box.

This was the kind of stuff I wanted to do when I thought that I could be an ‘instructional designer’….for the first few months the only thing I wanted to do was storyboard, construct pages, animations, case studies… it was a very exciting time. The first brush with the new profession! The feeling is still, obviously minus some of the shine. Hope I can find it again! J


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